If you’ve been injured on the job, you’ve likely had experience dealing with the process of obtaining worker’s compensation to cover immediate care for your injuries. An ER visit, multiple doctor’s appointments, medications, and physical therapy are all potential needs your compensation would cover.

What happens when your injuries leave you with a permanent impairment, such as the loss of use of a limb? If your work injury has caused you to lose function in any part of your body, you may qualify for a Scheduled Loss of Use (SLU) award, which provides compensation for the loss of income you might experience from your permanent injury.

State laws determine SLU decisions

Worker’s compensation laws vary by state. A schedule of injuries is built into each state’s laws, which addresses the losses of use that qualify as permanent impairments. At the very least, losses of hearing, vision, limbs, and digits are included in most states. Pennsylvania worker’s compensation law includes SLU benefits for head, face, and neck injuries leaving permanent disfigurement, as well as head trauma.

How are SLU awards calculated?

The Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act lays out a full schedule of benefits paid for each type of SLU injury and its resulting loss of income. It defines a percentage of wage loss compensation a worker is entitled to for a pre-determined number of weeks, in order to make up for the loss suffered from being put out of work following an impairment.

How can I get a SLU award?

To qualify, you’ll need a doctor to provide proof that you’ve reached the full medical extent of your recovery, and the percentage of use deprivation the injury causes. You may be asked by the Worker’s Compensation Board to provide a second opinion for its review.

Any disagreement between the two doctors will be judged either by the Board or by a judge in a court hearing. It’s important to consult with an attorney to make sure everything you’re submitting meets the criteria, and it’s wise to have your attorney assist you if your case does go to court.

The permanent loss of use of a body part can disrupt your life significantly. Talk to your lawyer about your options.